Try to understand this…
A major lobbying campaign, aimed at making sure that the Senate version of the energy and climate change bill includes subsidies for coal, is being planned by a coal-industry lobbying group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
You might recognize that name. The ACCCE was the group on whose behalf Bonner and Associates was working when it sent forged letters, purporting to come from local minority groups, to three lawmakers, urging them to oppose the House version of that same bill.
This hasn’t exactly flown under the radar. The forged letter story has been covered by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the AP, and numerous others. The Sierra Club has petitioned the Justice Department to probe whether criminal mail fraud occurred, and Congress has launched a formal investigation into the episode.
And yet, when Politico — in a story that appeared early yesterday morning — wrote about ACCCE’s big lobbying push on the Senate bill, including an interview with the group’s spokesman, it didn’t bother to mention, even in passing, the forged letters controversy.
No one at Politico, it appears — not reporter Lisa Lerer, nor any of her editors who looked at the story — thought this was relevant context for readers.
To be clear, Politico’s story appeared Wednesday morning, before Rep. Ed Markey wrote a sternly-worded letter to ACCCE asking, in part, why the lawmakers weren’t told about the forgeries prior to the vote — two of the three opposed the bill — even though ACCCE learned this information before the vote occurred. But ACCCE was already firmly in the cross-hairs of the scandal by Wednesday morning. As Politico itself had reported Monday night, the group had spent the day trying to “contain the damage” from the scandal by apologizing to the lawmakers who got the letters.
But none of this seemed worth going into in yesterday’s ACCCE story — even though that story concerned the lobbying activities — on the same bill! — of the group on whose behalf the letters were forged.
There’s a coda to this tale. A Politico report from today wrestles with the real issue that the forged letters raise.
You see, for lobbyists, Politico explains, the scandal is “a public relations nightmare that comes just when lobbying seemed to be regaining its natural place in the business of Washington.” As the president of the American League of Lobbyists puts it: “With all the strides we’ve made with the Obama administration, this really sets us back. It doesn’t look good for the lobbying profession.”
It’s tragic, really.